Grant Recipients 2011-2015

2015 Round of Grants

PhD Scholarship

Project Title: Prevention and management of low back pain.

The main projects in this full-time PhD focus on prevention of low back pain (LBP). Each year back pain costs Australia $9billion and while prevention would be ideal there are no known effective methods. Exercise is commonly recommended in chiropractic clinical practice for this purpose however its effectiveness/cost effectiveness has not been established. We will randomly allocate 160 people who have recently recovered from an episode of LBP to a group exercise class or a minimal intervention control. We will then follow-up the participants for a minimum of 1 year and compare rate of recurrence of LBP between the groups. In parallel we will conduct an economic evaluation.  A safe cost-effective intervention to prevent recurrences of LBP would be of enormous benefit to the individual and society. The identification of a cost-effective method to prevent recurrence would be a major breakthrough, could be readily implemented into clinical practice, and will place chiropractic researchers at the forefront of back pain research.

Grant Award: $24,653 per year over 2 years – Chief Investigator: Matthew Stevens

2014 Round of Grants

No grants were awarded in 2014

2013 Round of Grants

No grants were awarded in 2013

2012 Round of Grants

PhD Scholarships

Project Title: What causes LBP? – Investigating chiropractic care related factors using an innovative twin design approach

This full-time PhD project examines risk factors between spinal pain and cardiovascular disease. Data on twins registered at the Danish Registry are accessed in a large population-based prospective study. Spinal pain and cardiovascular diseases appear to share a number of similar risk or prevalence factors, including a history of smoking and lack or reduced levels of recreational physical activity. While it is known that an association exists between low back pain, neck pain and myocardial infarction, it is still not clear, particularly in older people whether spinal pain (as part of a musculoskeletal syndrome) can increase the risk of myocardial infarction. As the population continues to grow and age, the number of chronic diseases and disabilities, along with health related costs will continue to rise. Apart from investigating whether spinal pain can increase the risk of myocardial infarction in older people, we will explore whether the risk of myocardial infarction due to spinal pain is influenced by genetic and environmental factors and if it is consistent with a causation pathway after adjusting for familial factors. The project will entail collaboration with senior Danish researchers and will make use of new analytical methods developed in Australia.

Grant Award: $24,653 per year over 3 years – Chief Investigator: Matt Fernandez

Project Title: The role of lumbar multifidus muscle (LM) morphology in relation to clinical outcomes in patients with persistent low back pain:  a prospective cohort study.

This part-time PhD project investigates the role of LM morphology in the conservative management of LBP.  Changes in multifidus morphology such as fatty infiltration are known to be associated with the presence of low back pain.  However, the extent to which LM morphology is associated with or predicts clinical outcome for patients with LBP is unknown. Baseline clinical and MRI data from a large cohort of persons with LBP who undergo conservative management will be compared with follow-up clinical data.  The MR images will be analysed for fatty infiltration and asymmetry of the LM muscle.  The multivariate relationship between LM morphology and LBP outcomes will be explored.

Grant Award: $12,327 per year over 6 years – Chief Investigator: Jeffrey Cooley

2011 Inaugural Round of Grants

PhD Scholarship

Project Title: A cross sectional analysis of older women with arthritis: investigating pain mechanisms.

Arthritis is a National Health priority condition; it affects over 3 million Australians. Arthritis is more prevalent in older people and women. It has significant impact on quality of life, with worse functional outcomes than other chronic conditions. Traditional management of arthritis focuses on peripheral joint pain. Our interest is focused on the profile of pain in arthritis: duration and severity, anatomical location, cause, temporal characteristics and nociceptive or neuropathic mechanisms. Our study shall investigate pain in arthritis via a cross-sectional study of women aged in their 60’s who participate in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. The significance of this project is the identification of pain profiles in older adults with arthritis. Results shall translate into cohort studies investigating pharmaceutical and manual therapy interventions in this population. Chiropractors treat a large proportion of older, arthritic patients and population studies on the manifestation of pain in arthritis is important for management guidelines. This is the first Australian population based study on neuropathic pain in arthritis and is being conducted by chiropractors and gerontologists from the University of Newcastle.

Grant Award: $20,000 over 4 years – Chief Investigator: Dr Katie De Luca – Associate Investigators: Dr H. Pollard, Dr L. Parkinson, Dr J. Byles, Dr F. Blyth

2011 Small Grants

Project Title: Evidence-Based Practice: Attitudes, skills, and behaviours of Australian chiropractors.

This study aims to identify the attitudes, knowledge, and barriers to evidence-based practice among Australian chiropractors. It involves a cross-sectional postal survey conducted with the use of a questionnaire adapted from one developed by Jette et al. (2003). A random sample of 1300 chiropractors will be selected from a list provided by the Chiropractic Board of Australia. Logistic regression analyses will be conducted to examine associations between clinician characteristics and aspects of evidence-based practice. The findings of this study will have three main benefits. First, it will provide an understanding of what types of evidence-based information chiropractors perceive as relevant to clinical practice and how the information may be most effectively disseminated. Second, it will inform curriculum development of chiropractic undergraduate and postgraduate programs, which assist in producing chiropractors that are skilled in incorporating evidence into practice.  Third, it will facilitate the development of a research agenda that will direct chiropractic researchers to produce research that is relevant to practising chiropractors.

Grant Award: $18,975 – Chief Investigator: Dr B. Walker – Associate Investigators: Dr S. French, Dr J. Hebert, Dr N. Stomski

Project Title: Chiropractic care for adolescent low back pain: a pilot study for a randomised trial.

Q 1. What is the consensus best approach for chiropractic care of an adolescent with low back pain?
Q 2. Is this protocol for a randomised trial feasible and acceptable in a chiropractic setting?

The proposed study will consist of two phases.  In Phase 1 (first six months) we will convene an expert chiropractic panel to develop a protocol for best chiropractic care of adolescents with non-specific low back pain using a modified Delphi method.  In Phase 2 (second six months) we will undertake a pilot study for a randomised trial of the chiropractic care protocol developed in Phase 1, and 40 young people will be enrolled and randomised.

Health in early life has profound impact on health and quality of life in later years. Up to 75% of adolescents have experienced back pain. There is currently no evidence to support or refute the effectiveness of chiropractic, or other manual therapies, for low back pain in adolescents. The pilot data gained during this project will be used to apply for a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Project Grant to evaluate the chiropractic care protocol in a fully powered randomised trial.

Grant Award: $19,648 – Chief Investigator: Dr S. French – Associate Investigators: Dr B. Walker, Dr L. Hestbaek, A/Prof L. Sanci

 Project Title: The role of quantitative measures of muscle morphology in understanding low back pain: the clinical significance of the lumbar multifidus.

The identification of clinically important pathoanatomic abnormalities in patients with low back pain (LBP) is a priority. Preliminary evidence suggests the fatty infiltration and atrophy leading to imbalance of the lumbar multifidus (LM) are associated with LBP. However, these findings have been identified using retrospective reporting of clinical status and suboptimal measures of muscle morphology. The current study proposes to examine the relationship between prospective clinical measures of LBP and novel quantitative measures of LM morphology. Access to a database will provide data inclusive of a large cohort of persons with and without LBP who underwent lumbar spine magnetic resonance imaging at baseline followed by prospective weekly measures of LBP bothersomeness over a one year period. The multivariate relationship between LM morphology and LBP bothersomeness will be explored after controlling for the variance associated with potential covariates comprised of demographic, physical activity and other clinical factors. These study results have the potential to further explain the pathoanatomic model of LBP and may inform future research efforts with implications for enhanced healthcare delivery for patients with LBP.

Grant Award: $6992.00 – Chief Investigator: Dr J. Hebert – Associate Investigators: Dr J. Fritz, Dr R. Marcus, Dr B. Walker